November 28th, 2008 – by: Stevie_Wes
(1,940m - 2,360m)
My first real glimpse of mountain magic in the morning! :D
Today was a tough old walk for my still mostly uninitiated legs. A good 7 and a half to eight hours of walking. Stopping halways along the days planned section of the route for lunch at Chommrong I bump into Barbara and Maud. These are two French ladies whom I bumped into back in Pokhara
when we all arrived at the ACA (Annapurna Conservation Area) Permit issuing office at the same time. We had all sat there exchanging introductions and trek plans and itineraries whilst trying not to get too frustrated jumping through the various administrative hoops that trekking the region entails. Sat as I am, relaxing in my swiftly cooling sweat over lunch they head on but we are later to meet again.
Heading out and down from Chommrong I also from time to time catch up with a Japanese lad, also trekking on his own, and a late arrival I hads noticed at the Annapurna Guest House last night. His name is Minoru or "Mino" and in our own minimal language exchange kinda way, we will buddy up for the remaining time that we will spend on the Annapurna Base Camp or 'Sanctuary' part of my trekking itinerary.
It's steps, steps and MORE steps heading both down from Chommrong and then all the way back up from the valley basin to the reaches of the tiny hamlet of Upper Sinuwa. Hard on the legs and knees all the way but my left knee is doin' alright, refusing to give into the struggle. More packs of giggling school kids pass us heading home from their efforts later in the afternoon.
Mino and I have caught up with Barbara and Maud by this point which is handy as 3 months into the Nepal part of a world straddling trekking session that they're on the ladies have picked up some pretty passable practical Nepalese and are able to haggle room costs down for us all. Only 50 NPR a head tonight! (about $USD1.5). The rooms and bathroom facilities are basic to say the least but if you're heading out trekking, psychologically you shouldn't be setting yourself up for anything different really, although some people STILL seem to expect home comforts and relative luxury almost every step of the way. Only in the region's bigger, more depressingly over-developed villages and towns is this often an option for the right price... but mercifully the Annapurna Base Camp trail remains fairly modest and sparsely populated.
The Annaprna Guest House, Ghandruk
Dinner is a pleasant cosy affair with some happy, good people for comany. Carlo and Vittorio two travelling Italians. Firm friends although clearly of different generations. Carlo beems and throws light and laughter into any moment of conversation he enters into. The marvellous looking Vittorio on the other hand sits still as stone at his end of the table, the evening long. Smiling occasionally if a converstational turn really merits or is targetted in his general direction. I'm told later he's 78 and has pretty much trekked the world entire. He smiles again. The smile of ages. I start to read contour lines, gradient curves and altitude markers into the wrinkles and crags of his amiable decades-sun-burnished face. Maybe when you've seen so much of the world, from the vantage points he will have silently have admired it from you feel there's little you can add to its beauty by pouring needless words out into it?